How to Revise an Argumentative Essay: The Complete Guide

April 7, 2022

how to revise argumentative essay

You’ve spent a lot of time working on your argumentative essay. Your argument’s title is on point, you have a strong introduction for the argument, with a powerful hook that easily grabs the reader’s attention, and an arguable thesis statement.

Throughout the body section, you’ve structured your assignment so that every paragraph addresses its own idea, beginning with a topic sentence and ending with a closing link that transition to the next consecutive paragraph.

Your essay even addresses the opposing point of views and ends with a very strong conclusion. Your essay has addressed the issue in the prompt, and you now feel confident enough to submit it for review.

However, there’s one more thing you need to do before you can have your instructor look at your paper. You have to revise the essay thoroughly. So in this guide, you’ll learn how to revise an argumentative essay to give it a more refined touch than what it already has.

How to Revise An Argumentative Essay

Take a Break from Writing

While you can do everything in one sitting, it’s not always the best thing to do if you want to earn full marks.

Take a break from the essay as soon as you finish writing the conclusion. A 24 hour break isn’t bad, although you can relax for a couple of hours if you have a strict deadline to beat.

Taking a break has a benefit: 

It gives you the opportunity to refresh your mind, which could yield some great ideas and arguments different from what you already have in your essay.

In the end, you come back to your paper as a critical thinker who’s ready to read the essay from the standpoint of a reader, not a writer.

When you come back to working on your paper, read the essay carefully word by word, this time from a reader’s perspective.

Use Revise Outline to Review Your Claims and Evidence

In reverse outlining, you take away all the supporting writing and leave your paper with the main ideas. The approach allows you to assess if your ideas features the logical sequence of points and it helps to determine the success of your paper.

Reverse outlining your argumentative essay allow you to:

  • See if your paper meets its goals
  • Find places to analyze or expand
  • Look for gaps in your structure where readers may otherwise find your organization somehow weak

To reverse outline your argumentative essay, take a separate blank piece of paper and start organizing your thoughts.

  • Write your main claim at the top, or simply the thesis statement, right at the top
  • Follow this with all the sub claims that you made in your paper
  • Write down all the evidences that you used to support each claim

Since reverse outlining allows you to detail the core elements of your arguments in the most basic form possible, it becomes easy to see whether your argument would be convincing without the supporting writing.

Again, you’re able to look at your evidence more critically to determine if they’re sufficient to support the most crucial elements in the essay.

This revision technique raises a few important questions that you can use to refine your argumentative essay:

  • Does your argument provide sufficient evidence to support your claim?
  • How well has the essay addressed the counterarguments presented?
  • Do you need to qualify any of your claims to make it more precise?

Look Into the Assumptions of Your Arguments

As you write your argumentative essay, you’ll find yourself making implicit and explicit assumptions to connect your audience to your claims. Should this the case, you should read your argumentative essay to identify the assumptions you make about a piece of evidence. Then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the assumptions that I have made on a claim in my argumentative essay reasonable?
  • Can my readers acknowledge the assumptions that I make in my argumentative writing?
  • Should I leave the assumptions in my argumentative essay if my target audience doesn’t acknowledge them?

It’s uncertain if readers will openly recognize and share your assumptions, and especially if they don’t accept certain knowledge, value or beliefs.

So if you’ve explicitly or implicitly made assumptions in your work, account for them and, if possible, provide more evidence to validate these assumptions.

Revise Your Argumentative Essay with Your Audience in Mind

It’s important to think about your audience when revising your paper, and especially in relation to the evidence you use in your argumentative essay.

Since  you already know who will be reading your paper anyway, you need to identify the kind of evidence that they’ll find more persuasive.

  • Do they need numbers and statistics?
  • Are they looking for evidence draw from certain scholars in the field you’re trying to explore?
  • Or will the essay be more convincing if it included personal narratives?

It’s going to take some time to figure out how exactly your readers may respond to your arguments.

And that can go a long way to make it easy for you to include the right supporting evidence in your work.

Let Someone Else Read Your Argumentative Essay

Sometimes playing the devil’s advocate in an argumentative essay that you’ve written yourself can be somewhat hard.

Should that be the case, it’s best to find someone more objective to read your paper.

This kind of approach is helpful because it helps you think about how you may handle opposing point of views when they arise.

Quite too often, another objective reader will certainly embrace a more skeptical attitude and will help you identify gaps that can help you improve your writing.

In this situation, questions such as truth and the burden of proof will easily arise. Allowing them to be hard on your arguments can give you helpful criticism, which you can use to either expand, clarify, or remove an issue from your argument.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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